On or around The Lunch Tray’s May 26th birthday, I always like to go through my blog archive and take stock of where we’ve been in the prior year. When I did so this morning, one clear theme emerged: “Big Changes” – for our country, for my school district, and for me.
On a national level, we saw the surprise victory of President Donald Trump and the end of the eight-year Obama administration. I shared blog posts that: offered a plaintive farewell to Michelle Obama, a champion of child nutrition; expressed my deep fears about the fate of hungry kids under President Trump; told you how the current House Freedom Caucus wants to gut school food; introduced you to Trump’s Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue; explained that Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, isn’t ending the school lunch program (rumors to the contrary); and analyzed some recent rollbacks to the Obama school meal nutrition standards.
Here in Houston ISD, Aramark ended its 20-year stint overseeing our school food program, which unexpectedly opened the door to new possibilities. I took the opportunity to plead for a school food visionary to fill the void, and – to my utter astonishment – one of them actually heard the call! Detroit Public Schools’ Betti Wiggins is now in Houston and I can’t wait to see how she plans to improve our school meals.
And on a personal level, too, I’ve experienced some remarkable shifts. With over 3,500 lunches in the bag, I packed my very last school lunch (no regrets there!) and I stepped down from the Houston ISD school food committee on which I’d served since 2010.
I also had some unexpected and exciting professional opportunities, including being given the chance to write a book in the coming year and writing a front-page story for the New York Times on “lunch shaming.” I also wrote for the Times about: a frozen pizza that sneaks veggies into unsuspecting kids; changes ahead for junk food in school classrooms; why President Trump’s eating habits are fair game for commentators; and a groundbreaking New Mexico law banning lunch shaming.
Those were personal highlights, yet this year also marked the loss of Dana Woldow, a dear friend, trusted mentor and fierce child nutrition advocate. I still find myself eager to share some bit of news or gossip with Dana, before I remember with great sadness that I can no longer do so.
But amidst all of these dramatic changes, one thing has remained a constant: YOU. 🙂 Thanks so much, TLT readers, for sticking with me for seven wonderful years of blogging. I can’t wait to see what Year Eight will bring.
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